Having dined at some half-decent steak houses over the years – Gallagher’s in New York and Marco Pierre White’s in London to name but two – I’d like to think I know a good chunk of meat when I taste it.
Miller and Carter sell a million steaks a year from their chain of 40 restaurants across the UK, so they can hardly claim the same “exclusive” tag as those big name venues.
Yet to be so successful you’ve got to know a thing or two about beef and how to look after it from the field to the plate.
So, despite some mixed reviews online, we decided to make Miller and Carter in Parbold our Valentine’s meal destination. And I’ve got to admit we loved it.
You don’t have to be a red meat fan to visit M and C, but it certainly helps. The menu is heavily cattle-based, which is hardly surprising for a place which unashamedly calls itself a steak house.
There are 12 varieties to choose from, ranging in price from £13.50 for an eight ounce rump to £27.50 for a 10 ounce fillet on the bone.
For the more ambitious there is a 16 ounce Chateaubriand (to share between two) at £43.95 or a Longbone Tomahawk (also to share) which weighs in at a meaty 30 ounces and retails at five pence short of fifty quid.
We went for mid-range pieces of beef. Mine was a nine ounce 45-day aged British rump (£17.50), while Mrs Ellis, an even bigger steak fan than me, naturally went for an even bigger steak, the 12 ounce Ribeye (£19.95).
But more about that shortly. First the place itself: Big and busy, yet warm and welcoming, with a stylish bar space and large, comfortable, dining areas.
According to their own publicity, the company not only prides itself on its steaks (“beef is a labour of love at Miller and Carter”), but also the friendliness of its staff. Our waitress was both cheery and attentive.
The main menu had eight starters to select from and not a hint of steak in sight.
I chose the lemongrass and chilli tempura king prawns served with a sweet chilli jam (£6.50). Mrs E went for baked cheddar mushrooms in a creamy garlic and Cheddar sauce and served with garlic bread (£5.25). Both were first class.
Now on to the main reason for our visit – the beef. Was it going to be a showstopper or would the law of averages mean that somewhere in those million steaks would be one, or possibly even two, tough enough to sole your shoes?
Thankfully not, as both the Ribeye and the rump were perfectly cooked, tender and mouth watering. I had a sauce of Porcini mushrooms and black garlic, Mrs E chose cracked peppercorn, both £1.95.
As a side, M and C do a wedge of Iceberg lettuce in a bowl with a dressing of your choice. Alison’s was bacon and honey mustard, mine garlic mayo and Parmesan. Pleasant enough, but not really necessary at £2.50 each.
In addition to the 12 types of steak, the menu also has three varieties of steak burger. It also includes ribs, chicken, lamb rump, fish, pasta and salads for those peculiar diners who might want to visit a steak house and not eat steak.
While the Miller and Carter brand is from the same Mitchells and Butlers group as Harvester and Toby Carvery, on this evidence their steak houses are certainly a cut above their stablemates.
Name: Miller and Carter
Address: Parbold Hill, Parbold, Wigan WN8 7TG
Contact: 01257 462318 / www.millerandcarter.co.uk
Hours: Noon-11pm (midnight Sat/Sun)